Monday, July 18, 2005

Bark: Depp Impact

I was in London yesterday to see the fascinating World's Most Photographed exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, when I got a rather unexpected surprise. After finishing with the exhibition, my girlfriend and I had planned to do a little bit of shopping in Piccadilly and Chinatown before heading back to Leicester Square to meet the charming Dan Gril (who will be pleased to know that he gets my girlfriend's "He's niiiiiiiiice!" seal of approval), whom I know via my exploits in videogames journalism over the last couple of years.

As we were wandering up through Leicester Square towards Piccadilly, something struck us as being seriously amiss. Half of the square was barriered off, and the garden in the middle of the square had been spectacularly dressed like a deranged film set - with lollipops hanging from trees wrapped in faux-rock candy, and with sugar canes sprouting up from the flower beds like shrubs. As we walked around the square, the penny finally dropped.

We'd stumbled across the premiere of Tim Burton's remake of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Which, of course, meant that Johnny Depp was turning up...

Well, that was it. Shopping was cancelled, and we took up places at the barrier on the edge of the garden closest to the entrance ramp which had been constructed outside the Odeon. The atmosphere was somewhat oestrogen-laden, since the crowd was mainly teenage girls, though that did give me the added advantage of being able to peer over the three rows of people infront of me at the barrier with practically an unobstructed view, thanks to my somewhat superior height.

After two hours, at around 4.30pm, my aching feet and the teeniebobbers jostling me constantly from behind for a view of bugger all (it would be another hour until the major cast turned up), in the searing afternoon heat finally got the better of me. I trampled my way over the girls behind me, found an express supermarket, and bought myself a 1.5 litre bottle of Highland Spring, which I promptly drank in about 20 minutes, sat down in the shade at the back of the square. Fleur stoically refused to move, or accept liquid refreshment, and stayed in place, guarding her tiny patch of barrier fiercely.

Whilst I waited for Dan to arrive, the major players finally began to turn up, and there were a few interesting people in the invited audience. Jonathan Ross had brought his whole family, who happily posed for pictures from the crowd, and even Jeffery Archer had managed an invite - the film's surreal sense of fantastic reality had obviously struck a chord...

I managed to catch a glimpse of Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter over the crowd. Helena looked stunning in a strapless blue dress, and Tim Burton's hair is commendably unruly. He must have teams of tigers dragging him backwards through privet hedges to get it to look like that. As Dan arrived, Christopher Lee and Johnny Depp finally turned up (see the company he keeps?) causing the crowd to go BESERK. Dan and I decamped to the Porcupine pub just over the road, whilst Johnny (looking super-dapper in a pale blue suit and French beret) worked the crowds - Fleur getting within a few metres, but sadly not close enough for an autograph.

It was an interesting experience, and nice to see film stars in the flesh, but probably not something I'd want to repeat - at least not in such heat...
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